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Finding your home's heartbeat

If you’ve been following my ‘Relocating to Cornwall’ series, you will know that my husband and I opted to purchase a barn conversion for our new home, having previously renovated and lived in a Grade II listed Queen Anne town house for the 12 years prior.

I’ve always loved period properties or those with some form of architectural interest, and as much as I loved the age and history associated with our old home, this time around we both wanted our new home to be a little less high maintenance and not such a money pit.

Don’t misunderstand me, I adored our old home and it was such a gut wrenching decision to leave her, once she was finally finished. If I could have picked her up and brought her to lovely Cornwall with us, I probably would have. That said, I love the excitement of a new home and a new challenge.

Our barn conversion is just that and a completely different prospect in so many ways, which was a huge draw for me. Previously a working dairy, built out of beautiful Cornish stone, she really is something to behold.

She’s a bit rough around the edges and we are slowly renovating her when time and finances allow, but she is the perfect embodiment of Cornwall.

One of her huge advantages is that although her main structure is quite old, she was only converted to a residential dwelling in the early 80’s so she is as strong, solid and resolute as a Cornish heifer.

Her exposed beams in our reversed-living-sitting-room situated at the top of the barn to make the most of the lovely views down the valley to the sea, was previously a working hayloft and it feels surreal imaging it as such when we are cuddled up in front of our log burner on a cool Autumn evening.

Her A-frame exposed beam structure runs throughout the property, from room-to-room, like a skeleton. Her sixteen-inch-thick external walls and stripped internal wood doors with iron latches, all add to the feeling of country living. It’s in these period features that her heart beats.

In terms of refurbishing the barn, I wanted to softly echo her character and her Cornish country roots through the fabrics, prints and colour palette used.

Naturals and neutrals have very much been the theme, with textural elements added to soften and add contrast to the wood, which although I love, needed to be tied in with the overall design feel. Sisal, jute, wicker, twisted willow, dogs wood, driftwood even – all work well in moderation.

Layered with checked and striped fabrics, herringbone throws, chunky knit poofs, a mixture of wood and hand painted furniture – all help to break up the solid wood floors and high beamed ceilings, lending the feeling of a warm homely cottage feel rather than a cavernous cold draughty barn.

I talked in an earlier post, about the need to live in a new home first for a while, in order to get a feel for her. This is true also for furniture selection too, and I have a number of lovely pieces that we brought with us from our old home that I am undecided what to do with. A couple I’ve already started to refurbish and paint, some have ended up in my online shop, but some pieces I may just leave as nature intended.

I do love the mix of natural wood and painted wood within a home, but I’m a great believer that sometimes you can’t or shouldn’t add to perfection.

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